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News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

April 24, 2010
Ten points about the 49ers' draft

Mr. Irrelevant has been taken and the 2010 draft it in the books. Here are some final thought on the 49ers' haul:

1. You might say that this draft had Mike Singletary's fingerprints all over it, but that would be wrong. It's more like his boot print. Just about every pick fit the same mold - big, physical, tough. "It's like I said in the beginning of the draft - go big or go home," acting GM Trent Baalke said. "We want to build a physical football team. And generally speaking, in order to do that you've got to be big." The question is not whether the draft fulfilled Singletary's vision. It most certainly did. The question is whether it's the right vision.

2. To wit: After drafting Anthony Dixon, the 49ers now have three primary running backs with essentially the same skills. That is, they are one-cut backs who excel between the tackles. You know how the Giants used to have a committee of running backs nicknamed Earth, Wind & Fire? The Merc's Dan Brown joked that the 49ers runners should be called "Earth, Earth & Earth."

3. I asked Singletary whether there's been any talk of a Giants-like running back by committee. "You have a hard time explaining that to Frank (Gore) that other guys need to play. He just doesn't get it." Singletary said the 49ers would consider dividing carries this year. Then again, Singletary said similar things last offseason before Gore, more than ever, was the team's "bell cow" runner.

4. Baalke helped explain some of the team's moves as far as who will be playing which positions. For example, he said that Ted Ginn would line up at "X" receiver while sixth-rounder Kyle Williams would line up at slot. Baalke said that Williams was a shiftier player while Ginn was a blazer, a guy who can "lift the lid off the defense." Michael Crabtree is the starter at X, but the idea is to move him around the field at different positions so that the defense can't zero in on him. That seems to signal that Ginn would be brought in occasionally to give defenses a different look. Williams will battle veteran Jason Hill for playing time in the slot.

5. Baalke said that the differences between "Ted" and "Mike" linebacker have been overstated. He said that when Mike Nolan was coach, the "Ted" inside linebacker had a greater responsibility as far as taking on blockers and doing the heavy lifting. Now the two positions are almost interchangeable and both require the linebackers to take on blocks. Singletary gives veteran Takeo Spikes plenty of time off during the week, so it stands to reason that most of third-round pick Navorro Bowman's practice time will come at "Ted."

6. What does Bowman's acquisition say about last year's fifth-round pick, Scott McKillop? As I've written in the past, the 49ers weren't all that happy with McKillop's progress last year. "Scott McKillop is trying to get it," Singletary said. "He's trying to get his game together. It's just taking a little time." That being said, there's plenty of room for McKillop on the roster. Spikes will be in the final year of his deal while Matt Wilhelm is an off-the-street free agent. The 49ers need to look to the future at inside linebacker, and besides - inside linebackers make excellent special teamers.

7. Baalke said the draft had five nose tackles the 49ers had identified as being capable of playing in their system. It just so happened that, value-wise, none of those five ever appeared when the 49ers were picking. That has to be good news for Aubrayo Franklin, the 49ers' franchise player who is looking for a long-term deal. The 49ers have no heir apparent, although they are giving last-year's seventh rounder, Ricky Jean Francois, a look at the position.

8. Taylor Mays will wear No. 23. Nattily dressed in a gray suit, Mays backed off his criticism of former coach Pete Carroll. He said he hasn't talked to Carroll yet but that the draft hasn't altered their "relationship or our friendship," he said. Still, he said his draft-day fall would serve as motivation this year. "You have to be able to channel it," he said.

9. Asked where Mays' acquisition left veteran Michael Lewis, who is set to make more than $4 million in base salary, Baalke insisted that Lewis was the starter. "You draft a guy like Taylor Mays at the spot we drafted him and you certainly want to get him on the field. But Michael Lewis is the starter," he said.

10. All of the players drafted - plus perhaps a dozen or so priority free agents - will be in Santa Clara Friday for the start of a three-day minicamp. Friday will be rookies only.

-- Matt Barrows

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MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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